As the offseason heads towards the MLB Winter Meetings, teams are beginning to make some moves to ready themselves for the December swap meet as well as the Rule 5 draft. Coming off a season that, hopefully, was the nadir of the rebuilding process, the Detroit Tigers have made some personnel changes in an effort to move the team forward towards a competitive future.
Staff moves signal lean towards analytics
The big news out of Detroit is the series of hires and promotions the team has made in the baseball operations department. Now in the supposed third year of the rebuild, the club has brought in some fresh talent, as well as reorganized some of its internal staff.
For starters, one of the names more familiar to the fanbase — Lance Parrish of the ‘84 Bless You Boys fame — has been moved to a special assistant role after coaching in Detroit’s minor league system since 2014. The former Tigers catcher will be replaced at his most recent destination in West Michigan by another former catcher who spent some time in the D, Brayan Peña. Parrish will join fellow Tigers teammates Alan Trammell and Kirk Gibson in his new role.
Lance Parrish moves into special assistant role in Tigers front office.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) November 12, 2019
Tigers also hired former USC coach Dan Hubbs to implement systemwide pitching program. Kenny Graham will do same on hitting side.
Josh Paul is Tigers' new quality control coach. https://t.co/Ip1idEUVOb
What might be the biggest move, however, was the hiring of former University of Southern California coach Dan Hubbs to focus on implementing a system-wide pitching program that will monitor prospect progress from the moment they first step onto the backfields of Lakeland until they reach the bright lights of Detroit. Hubbs is Driveline-certified and has implemented their strategies the past couple of seasons at USC in an effort to combat arm fatigue.
Joe Vavra, who took Lloyd McClendon’s place as the hitting coach in the previous coaching shuffle last month, is replaced by former Angels bench coach Josh Paul, who assumes the duties of quality control coach. The team also hired its first full-time director of performance science, Dr. Georgia Giblin, who worked with the Tigers this past season as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan.
The last most notable hire was that of Kan Ikeda, a major league advance scouting coordinator and international pro scout from Japan. His addition to the staff could represent a broader global vision for the Tigers when it comes to scouting international players, and may lead to an infusion of Asian talent we haven’t seen in the organization previously.
All in all, this news is good news for Tigers fans, as it appears that the organization is now focused on rebuilding internally along with the farm system. Hopefully, these news faces and fresh assignments will help get the team back into contention in the very near future.
Top Tigers prospects eligible for Rule 5 draft
A month from now, the Rule 5 draft will be held on the final day of baseball’s Winter Meetings. Between then and now, all 30 teams have some big decisions to make in regards to who they will protect and who they will leave exposed to the selection process. For the Tigers, there are seven prospects in the team’s top 30 who need to be placed on the 40-man roster to avoid being snatched away. The list is as follows, according to their organizational prospect rank.
5. Isaac Paredes, INF
8. Daz Cameron, OF
14. Beau Burrows, RHP
18. Kyle Funkhouser, RHP
20. Anthony Castro, RHP
22. Elvin Rodriguez, RHP
27. Jake Robson, OF
28. Derek Hill, OF
Of those names listed, Paredes, Cameron and Burrows are the most likely will be protected, while it would be difficult to see any of the others listed lasting on an MLB roster for an entire season, even with the added roster spot.
Tigers prospects eligible for the Rule 5:— Jay Markle (@jaymarkle_byb) November 12, 2019
IF Isaac Paredes
OF Daz Cameron
RHP Beau Burrows
RHP Kyle Funkhouser
RHP Anthony Castro
RHP Elvin Rodriguez
OF Jake Robson
OF Derek Hill
OF Danny Woodrow
RHP Carlos Guzman
OF Jose Azocar
RHP Wilkel Hernandez
Who are you protecting?
Fiers warned Tigers of Astros sign stealing
Mike Fiers says he warned the Tigers about the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing tactics back when he joined the team in 2018. Signed as a free agent during the offseason after a season and a half in Houston, and dealt away merely months later at the trade deadline, Fiers confided with his teammates the secrets of the Astros’ system.
The setup is described as a television mounted in the tunnel leading to the home dugout along with a trash can that was banged to send an auditory signal for which pitch to expect. The illegal part of that rig is the television, as using electronic means to steal signs is against MLB rules.
Sources – including Mike Fiers – confirm that the Astros were stealing signs in 2017 using an outfield camera, a monitor in the tunnel and banging on a trash can to convey pitches.@Ken_Rosenthal & @EvanDrellich on an issue that permeates the league: https://t.co/1uDvm4hNBK pic.twitter.com/BCSmlOzejt— The Athletic MLB (@TheAthleticMLB) November 12, 2019
The Athletic has published an in-depth story on the accusations that the Astros stole signs back in 2017, which is part of a much broader issue for the league. In partial response, MLB plans to crack down on sign stealing beginning this year.
Somewhere, Chris Sale is probably smiling.
Faithless in Detroit
SeaWolves set up Chace Numata Scholarship
The late farmhand’s legacy will live on impacting young baseball and softball players alike.
The SeaWolves announced today that the team has established the Chace Numata Scholarship in honor of the SeaWolves catcher who tragically passed away in September.— Erie SeaWolves (@erie_seawolves) November 12, 2019
Scholarship Information & Application: https://t.co/4W6dYGmXa5 pic.twitter.com/EvjZUW0xXb
- Tigers are willing to trade Matthew Boyd, per report. Detroit’s ace is on the market again after failing to attract a big enough return at the deadline in July.
- MLB Trade Rumors predicts the Tigers to sign Yasiel Puig. Not only does he bring at least a solid bat to a team that desperately needs it, but he’s still just 28 and appears to have put his injury issues behind him over the past two years.
- Tigers’ Travis Demeritte was overmatched in his debut season. He showed flashes of power but was too strikeout-prone in his first stint in the majors.
- Tigers may be interested in Phillies 3B Maikel Franco, per report. The Tigers and Phillies have been scouting each other regularly since July.
- Michael Wacha could bridge the gap until the Tigers’ prospects arrive. This isn’t an exciting option but it feels Tigerish.
- The Tigers should sign Ryosuke Kikuchi because he would make the team better. The Japanese defensive star could find a home on the Tigers’ infield dirt.
- Here are some minor league free agents to keep an eye on this offseason. A veritable horde of former prospects and organizational filler hit free agency this week. The fun part is finding the potential high-value pickups.
Around the horn
The Miami Marlins are “believed” to have interest in Nicholas Castellanos. Please don’t hate me for voting Mike Soroka over Pete Alonso for NL Rookie of the Year. The Nationals are the latest team showing interest in Josh Donaldson. What does the case of Gerrit Cole show us about labor relations, the market, and the invisible hand?